Samsung Ships Knox; Gets Knocked

By  Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — March 18, 2013

Samsung bet big on BYOX and is attempting to take over the tablet space. The South-Korean based company, the largest Android handset manufacturer, has no intention of stopping with smartphones either.

The company introduced its Galaxy S 4 at a recent “Unpacked” event at Radio City Music Hall, where Mobile Enterprise was in attendance. Even as HTC marketing members (at that same event) tried to sway media types to check out their new phone, the attention of thousands was on the Samsung unveiling.

Although not “revolutionary” in design, the 4G smartphone, running on Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean), does have two key features that may appeal to the prosumer: a 13 megapixel rear camera and Knox.  

While a typical consumer might otherwise be oblivious to the secure solution that separates corporate from personal, in the age of BYOD and with Samsung commercials playing out scenes of SAFE, Knox does stand out as a differentiator.  ( BYOD accounts for millions of Galaxy S 3s in the enterprise.)

Analyst Assessment
Overall reaction is that this new smartphone is relevant but not a game changer. Yankee Group VP of Research Carl Howe commented, “If Samsung were Apple, it would have named this design the Galaxy S IIIS. While Samsung updated the internals and the software, the S 4 is just another iteration on the Galaxy design to be slightly bigger, faster and with a few new apps.”

Howe also said, that while this device is likely to be an “excellent flagship phone,” they [Yankee Group] don’t see it as an enabler for Samsung to gain ground against Apple in the U.S. market.  In fact he cited the Group’s research where 15% of respondents said they would purchase a Samsung phone within the next six months;  40% intend to buy Apple iPhones.

The survey also showed that Samsung doesn’t appear to be generating brand loyalty that cult-like Apple followers have; 61% of Samsung owners intend to buy another Samsung as their next smartphone, while 85% of Apple iPhone owners intending to buy another.

So, contrary to other predictions, Howe said, “Unless Samsung works very hard to change consumers’ minds in the next six months, we actually see Apple gaining ownership share on Samsung in the U.S. in 2013 rather than the other way around.”

Droid Attack
Apple might be happy to hear this, and while citing stats of its own in favor of the iPhone and iOS, clearly the company does see Samsung, and more specifically, Android as a threat. The oft quiet Apple went on the offensive just before the S 4 launch speaking to two mainstream media outlets.

In a “rare” interview with the Wall Street Journal, Phil Schiller, senior VP of worldwide marketing for Apple, said, “Apple's own research shows that four times as many iPhone users switched from an Android phone than to an Android phone in the fourth quarter.”  

He never mentioned Samsung by name to the Journal, but the timing of the interview suggests that the comments were made towards his leading competitor.  

Schiller did, however, tell Reuters that the fragmentation of the Android operating system out in the marketplace, is a problem. "And that extends to the news we are hearing this week that the Samsung Galaxy S 4 is being rumored to ship with an OS that is nearly a year old," he said. "Customers will have to wait to get an update." [Jelly Bean was released in June 2012.] Post launch, Apple changed its iPhone 5 marketing page as well.

Ironically, Samsung barely mentioned Android at all—once in fact—at the launch, suggesting the company may be distancing itself with the possibility of a proprietary platform.

Apple vs. Samsung
When it comes to Apple versus the world, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is usually fairly subtle, but even he got in on the Apple vs. Samsung conversation around the launch. He told The Australian Financial Review, that “the Samsung S 4, along with a wave of recent smartphone releases had reeled in the lead Apple used to hold in the market.”

Meanwhile, in court, Apple and Samsung have battled in both the United States and South Korea. In its original U.S. suit, Apple claimed that Samsung infringed on its patents related to technology, interface and style. Apple was eventually awarded $1 billion by a jury and some Samsung devices were removed from the market. 

Since then there have been devices in and out of the suit and on and off the market. At one point Samsung had even threatened to add the iPhone 5 to the docket. On March 1, the judge who presided over the billion dollar case, reduced the award by an estimated half when she removed certain devices from the suit. A new trial to determine the proper amount has been ordered.

S 4 Specifics
In the meantime, revolutionary or not, the consumer is nothing if not fickle and still wants to know about any little improvement in every new device.

The Galaxy S 4’s  5-inch screen size offers a full HD Super AMOLED display and Corning’s new Gorilla Glass 3 and is following a recent trend of larger size mobile devices. With a larger battery than its predecessor, the light (130g) and slim (7.9mm) smartphone will initially be available in Black Mist and White Frost, with other colors to be added.

A dual-camera function allows a user to take photos of both the subject and the user, simultaneously. Frame effects can blend the two pictures and adjust the size of the small picture inside the larger one. Sound and voice can be stored together with pictures. In addition, the dual video call function allows users to make and receive a video call while.

The S Translator provides translation, from either speech to text or text to speech.

A smart scroll allows user to scroll a browser or emails, up and down, without touching the screen. It recognizes your face looking at the screen and movement of your wrist and then scrolls the pages up or down accordingly.

Air View allows users to hover with their fingers to preview the content of an email, S Planner, image gallery or video without having to open it.

The optical reader automatically recognizes text, businesses card or QR code information, and provides translation, call, text message and search.

Samsung says the smartphone will be available from Q2 in 155 countries, including the U.S. through all the major carriers: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless, as well as US Cellular and Cricket.


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